Opportunities for Learning and Employment

Older people have a wealth of knowledge and experience which is currently underappreciated and undervalued in the workplace. Tackling age discrimination and recognising the value and worth of older people in Wales will be a key feature in the work of this network; older people are currently worth over £1 billion to the Welsh economy every year. The network will aim to increase the recognised value of older people through further learning, employment and volunteering opportunities.

It is good for the individual, the community and the economy for older people to be engaged in some form of employment, education or training. Learning for older people has a range of benefits, such as:

  • Promoting full economic and societal participation
  • Contributing towards personal wellbeing and fulfilment
  • Supporting creativity and innovation, and
  • Increasing efficiency as workers or volunteers.

The need to prioritise opportunities for employment and new skills for older people has been added to the Ageing Well in Wales Programme in recognition of its prevalence as an issue for older people in Wales. The Strategy for Older People (Phase 3) 2013-23 states that older people who are unemployed are more likely to be long-term unemployed; around 45% of unemployed people aged 50-64 have been unemployed for a year or more compared to 30% of 18-24 year olds and 38% for 25-49 year olds.

With the economic downturn affecting the traditional models of retirement, older people must be able new learning and employment opportunities to remain in or re-enter the labour market. Older people require access to learning for a number of reasons. For example, with an increasing number of older people unable to afford retirement at State Pension age, the provision of learning and skill development opportunities to improve their employment prospects becomes ever more important.

For other older people who are able to retire when they choose, access to learning is a key factor in maintaining their wellbeing. Learning and skills development in this context includes financial and digital inclusion, helping older people to become more resilient in later life.

By improving the employment prospects of older people and empowering them to remain engaged longer with society, Opportunities for Learning and Employment will also complement the work of the Loneliness and Isolation network.